Wealth and corruption in football and player transfers

Transfers of players between football clubs

The ability for football clubs to transfer players between them is an extremely important aspect of the game of football enabling the club signing the player to prosper in footballing terms and the club selling the player to prosper in monetary terms.

The autonomy of football clubs

The autonomy of football clubs in world football is also an extremely important aspect of the game. The clubs in the FA Premier League may only be able to sign players between two distinctive transfer windows but the decision on who they wish to sign remains their own.

There may be power struggles within football clubs in relation to the duties of the manager and who makes the final decisions to sign players but that final decision will always come from within the club and should not be affected by outside influence.

Bargaining between two football clubs

If a football club in the FA Premier League wishes to gain the services of a player who is under contract with another club in the Premier League they will have to make an offer for that player. If that offer is accepted by the club who holds that players registration then the buying club will be free to discuss personal terms with that player.

The current problems faced by the transfer market in the Premier League

Currently in the FA Premier League certain clubs, following overseas investment, have huge sums of money of which to spend on players. This means that they can effectively sign any player they wish as most clubs will be willing to accept vastly inflated sums for their players as many other clubs in the Premier League are struggling financially.

Is there any other effect that these super wealthy clubs bring with them?

One of the biggest effects that these super wealthy clubs have is they inflate prices that other clubs will have to pay for potential players. If for example a club with a smaller budget bids for a player offering a sum which the player’s club finds acceptable then they would be able to sign that player. However, due to the money with certain clubs as soon as that club bids for a player then the player’s club, knowing the wealth of the second club, will automatically up the asking price. If the original club wishes to try and outbid them they will be required to pay a hugely inflated price.

Is this fair?

This may not seem fair on the smaller clubs but unfortunately the club bidding for players in this manner is not illegal – however aggressively they go about it – so nothing can be done against that club. It is simply the natural progression of that amount of money coming into the game.

Have there been any situations where a club of this wealth has used its buying power in an illegal manner?

There have been recent claims emanating from one Premier League club that the buying power of a wealthier Premier League club was used to affect their transfer policy.

What was the substance of this claim?

The first Premier League club claims that they were told by the second club to withdraw their interest in a player for which the second club wished to sign.

What were the terms of this interest being withdrawn?

The terms of this interest being withdrawn was that if they did not withdraw their interest then the club with the vast sums of money would simply outbid that club for another player for which they were about to sign.

Did the second club have any interest in this player?

The second club did originally show interest in this player but then decided not to pursue him. They however, were willing to up their interest and outbid the other club simply on the grounds that the other club was also interested in a player which they wished to sign.

What happened in this case?

The two clubs signed the players that they wanted.

Is there any substantiation in these claims?

These claims were released to the press by the original club just as they were about to play the more wealthy club in a vital Premier League encounter. This may simply have been used as a tactic to affect that club in that match as no claim was brought to the Premier League.

What has since happened in this matter?

The second club has vehemently denied the allegations and has stated the potential of bringing a legal claim against the original club.

Has the Premier League taken any action?

The FA Premier League will undoubtedly investigate these claims as it will do with any claims of corruption. As yet there have been no findings from the Premier League as to whether the claims are correct.

Was the second club wrong in its actions?

If the allegations are true the actions of the second club would fall strictly within the definition of corruption that the football authorities are working so hard to eradicate. Another club willfully stopping a football club from bidding for a player simply due to their financial muscle is an extremely undesirable position for football.

If the Premier League is to find any substantiation in the claims they will be required to take stringent action.

Does this set a worrying precedent for football?

Teams being able to flex their financial muscle to the detriment of the game, by dismantling the level playing field in this manner set a very worrying precedent for the sport of football. Currently UEFA is doing much to try and eradicate the darker side of football believing that much of this is linked to the vast amounts of money coming into the game. Stopping action like this is therefore one of the fundamental reasons for the UEFA Financial Fair Play proposals.